Newbery Books 1926: Shen of the Sea and The Voyagers

The Newbery winners of 1925 and 1926 have been books of folk tales, fairy tales, and tales of adventure.

The 1926 Newbery Honor was a book called The Voyagers by Padraic Colum. It is about the early exploration of the Atlantic Ocean leading up to the discovery of the Americas. One of the cool things about reading this book is that it was an edition of the book actually published in 1925.  The pages are thick and sturdy and made with rag paper.  I also loved the illustrations.  Most of them are black and white, but there were a few color illustrations included.  Here’s an example: voyagersI really enjoyed some of these adventure and exploration stories, but then I became bored with others because they started to feel more like a recitation of history rather than an engaging story.  I did really like the story about the city of Atlantis.  It was in this book also that I learned that the word anchorite means religiouse recluse.  I don’t think I’d ever seen that word before.  Overall, it was ok.  I really like the “1926 reading experience” but the book was not anything that I found to be that memorable.

The Newbery Medal winner was also a compilation of stories.  It is called Shen of the Sea: Chinese Stories for Children by Arthur Bowie Chrisman.  The thing is – Chrisman is an American who never visited China, and he made up all of these “folk tales”.  They are written “in the style of Chinese folk tales”.  I just don’t know quite what to think about it.  Some of the stories are really funny.  Some of them are quite engaging.  It’s just odd to me that the Newbery Medal would be awarded to a book of “faux-Chinese folk tales”.  It’s been food for thought for sure.  I think I don’t like the idea of it, but why?  Well, if I hadn’t done any research and in 1926 there would have been no quick “google search”, I would have read this to my 1926 version of Davey and presented it to him as Chinese folk stories.  It would have just won the Newbery Medal and I’d think “well this must be a great book of Chinese stories!  We will learn something”.  Most of them are really fun to read though – I just am not sure I would have chosen this book for “the most distinguished contribution to American Children’s literature”.

There are some fun illustrations in this book too.

shen2I often am enjoying the illustrations as much (and more in some of these books) then the story.

shen1

I will remember Shen of the Sea – the whole idea of a book of “faux Chinese folk tales” was just too unusual to me to forget.

Now on to Smoky the Cowhorse – the 1927 Medal winner!

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